A community, like a machine, is made of many parts. Although Kwesi Johnson claims he is just a cog in the wheel, his devotion to his community is an essential part of what makes Malvern, and Scarborough, work. As an educator, advocate for youth, relationship builder and volunteer, he has devoted his personal and professional life to his community.
Born in Guyana and coming to Malvern at age ten, his early orbit was family, school and church. He recalls that when finished high school, he was one of only three of the 15 young men in his class who graduated. He enrolled in the child and youth worker program at Centennial College and followed his certificate with a degree from Ryerson and a Masters of Education from the University of Toronto. Throughout his education and working life, he dedicated himself to enhance and improve his community, whether as a volunteer basketball coach or a youth employment counsellor.
“Bringing together young people in the community,” is how Johnson modestly describes it. He has worked with the Malvern Family Resource Centre and the Malvern Youth Cabinet to create sports days; the Black Community and Policing Consultative Committee to bridge the gap with police; and is founder of the Guyanese Canadian Youth Alliance to provide educational support for participants from kindergarten through Grade 12.
“I feel working with young people, taking an experience we have shared, and watching them transform themselves is very rewarding.”
He has encouraged civic engagement with Malvern Votes, educating the community on the election process, and the importance of participation.
“People want to be involved. There are so many opportunities for organizations and community members to help grow the community.”
Among his latest projects is a partnership between the Parkdale Golden Age Foundation and Anglican Church of the Nativity to create an intergenerational after-school program, creating a safe space for homework help and a light meal.
“There are so many vibrant and eclectic people and events and places. I am so optimistic. There is so much opportunity for growth and change.”